News Briefs


Van goes off cliff, crashes into home

A COIT carpet cleaning company van went off a cliff on Hillview Drive and crashed below into a home in Latigo Canyon Friday at 5 p.m. The 22-year-old driver, who jumped out before the van went over the cliff, was uninjured.

A CHP official confirmed the incident, and said Ceasar Gomez of La Puente was driving the black 1997 Dodge Ram. No other vehicles were involved in the accident.

Gomez spoke with The Malibu Times late Tuesday.

He said he had packed up the van and was getting ready to leave and could not release the parking brake. The van was parked in a driveway, just west of Oceanview Drive.

He tried several times to release the brake, putting it in Drive mode, and then “it just snapped on its own,” Gomez said. “The van started rolling down the hill; it was just a little stretch from the driveway to the cliff. Luckily, I had the door open.”

Gomez said he tried to control the van, but “lost it,” and on “instinct,” he got out before it hit a light post, stopped and then went off the cliff.

Gomez went down to the house that the van smashed into on Escondido Drive to wait for the CHP. Sheriff’s deputies and paramedics had responded immediately to the scene. He said the van had appeared to crash into the back of the home, causing damage to the kitchen area.

“I was real nervous,” Gomez said. “I thought it might have landed on someone, didn’t see where it went. But once I realized it didn’t hurt anyone, I was relieved.”

A resident of Hillview Drive, Tricia Byrnes, said a friend died at the same spot two years ago. Julia Webb, who was 34, was the passenger in a car that her friend, Alex Thompson, was driving in January 2005. Byrnes said the car hit a rock on the mountainside and when Thompson overcorrected, the car shot off the cliff, at the same curve in the road where Friday’s accident took place. The car fell several hundred feet before hitting a tree. Webb died at the scene; Thompson was hospitalized.

Byrnes said there have been three accidents at that curve since 2001, and said it’s dangerous because the driveways in that particular section back out directly toward the cliff. She had requested the Los Angeles Department of Public Works, which maintains certain roads within the city of Malibu and in unincorporated areas within the county, to put in a guardrail at the curve, but was told it wasn’t sharp enough to pose a danger.

“How many more people have to die before they do something?” Byrnes asked. “It’s such a simple thing to put in a guardrail.”

Gary Boze, press information officer for LADPW, said if a person wants to file another request they should call the Traffic and Lighting Department at 626.300.4708, which would then conduct a study taking into account the number of accidents at the site, traffic and other factors.

-Laura Tate


The beginning of the summer festival that city public relations head Susan Shaw said she hopes becomes an annual tradition will take place on Sunday. Malipalooza! will include the 40th anniversary screening of Malibu resident Lou Adler’s film “Monterey Pop” as well as local bands performing and other activities.

The event is a fundraiser for the Legacy Park Project, the planned creation of a wastewater/storm water treatment system of which the city-owned Chili Cook-Off site is proposed to be a major component.

There is no admission for the event, which will take place beginning at 4 p.m. at Bluffs Park. Local bands scheduled to perform include Whitestarr. The lead vocalist for the band is Adler’s son, Cisco. Other bands to perform include New Dogs, Old Tricks, Mike Stahler, and 27 Miles. Other Malibu performers are Ren Martinez, Hannah Mulholland, Hellwood, Mike & Shannon, 13-year-old Ren Martinez, and 12-year-old Gabriella Marinaro.

The screening of “Monterey Pop” will take place at 9 p.m. Preceding the screening, a VIP reception in the Michael Landon Center will take place from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The reception requires tickets. Malipalooza! will also include a climbing wall and bouncies for children, a food court and booths showcasing Malibu vendors and nonprofit organizations. The exhibitors and food vendors are donating a portion of their proceeds to the park project. More information can be obtained online at, or by calling 310.305.2033.

Two rescued from sailboat near Paradise Cove

Two people were uninjured but needed to be rescued last Thursday after the 34-foot sailboat in which they were traveling got stuck on rocks during low tide near Paradise Cove. According to Los Angeles County Lifeguard officials, the boat got stuck at about 2 a.m. The officials towed the boat out to deep water. Pumps were later used to suck the water out of the vessel, with a diver inserting special plugs to seal the holes.

Teachers union head running for state board

Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teacher’s Association President Harry Keiley has announced he is running for a seat on the California State Teacher’s Retirement Board. The board oversees the management of more than $165 billion, making it the second largest pension fund in America. In addition, the CALSTRS Board appoints the CEO and sets policies that impact the investment decisions of the pension fund.

The CALSTRS Board has twelve members. Six are appointed by the governor, three are statewide officers (treasurer, controller and state superintendent) and three are at-large members elected by the more than 800,000 members of CALSTRS.

The election will take place from Oct. 1 through Nov. 30. Elected board members will begin their four-year terms on Jan. 1.

Local photographer star of Arts Festival

This year’s Malibu Arts Festival will honor local photographer Nick Rodionoff as the featured artist, festival officials from the Malibu Chamber of Commerce recently announced. The two-day event, which begins on July 28, will include more than 165 artists, the Children’s Village, more than 70 local Malibu businesses in the Chamber Village, the entertainment stage featuring eight original performers and a large food court. Festival officials say they expect more than 10,000 people to attend the weekend festivities in front of the Malibu Courthouse.

Rodionoff’s photography includes sunsets, seascapes, landscapes, location shots, wildlife and the surf. His work has been featured in several magazines. Rodionoff is also the head coach of Pepperdine’s women’s swimming and diving team.

The festival is free, with parking costing $7. For more information, go to or call 310.456.9025.

City Council recognizes Lyme Disease awareness

At its meeting earlier this month, the City Council announced a proclamation supporting the month of May as Lyme Disease Awareness month. The proclamation was read by Mayor Jeff Jennings, who stood by Barbara Barsochinni, a Malibu resident and chronic Lyme disease patient who sits on the California Lyme Disease Association board. The proclamation followed unanimous declarations by the houses of the state legislature.

For more information about the tick-borne disease, go to

-Jonathan Friedman